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The lineup of businesses in downtown Shelbyville is about to have some noticeable changes, with a new retail outlet filling open store fronts at 718 Main Street as soon as Friday.
That's where To Be Continued, a clothing and furniture consignment store, will assume space vacated by longtime downtown businesses Image Tree, which has closed, and Country Squire, which has reduced its space.
Also coming soon are Through The Looking Glass, a new boutique tea room, a new counseling service and a new gallery.
Departing are the bridal shop Eventuality and Main Street Music.
Eventuality is closing at the end of October because of a change in the owner's life, and Main Street Music store is relocating to Frankfort Road, just east of the Boone Station Road/Mount Eden Road intersection.
"We have very few vacancies now; I can remember when it was a lot worse," Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said. "But one vacancy is too many. We want to fill up every space that is available in every part of the city."
Eileen Collins, executive director of Shelby Development Corporation, said there are other reasons for the open spaces downtown. Some business owners can't afford to stay open, others just got tired of running a store, and some are just moving.
"I think the economy in general has taken a little bit of a toll on Shelbyville, but I also think that life changes happen to people," she said. "For example, at Eventuality her husband got a promotion, so she's not leaving for the economy, she's leaving because a good thing happened in her life."
Eventuality Manager Danashia Lee said business has been fine, but the shop is closing because the husband of owner Althea Beach-Grant got a job promotion out of state. The shop will reopen in Mexico City.
"She would've kept it here because it has necessities here in Shelbyville," Lee said of Beach-Grant. "It does well."
She said that most of the store's business actually came from outside the county, and she thought the local economy would improve if Shelbyville residents shopped more within the county.
Main Street Music's owner, Glenn Wyecek, says his store is expanding.
"We needed more room," he said. "We liked being downtown,
but there wasn't anything available for us downtown that was affordable."
Though the retail portion of the Country Squire is no longer on the first floor of the B suite, its design area will remain at the address on the second floor. Giving up the first floor wasn't for lack of business, owner Darrel Hartman said.
After 15 years Hartman said 90 percent of his business comes from return-customers, so he only needs a design area and workshop.
"I've been busier than I can remember," he said. "Most of my business is not walk-in business. All of our work is in peoples' homes. We were so busy up here [in the design portion] that we decided to let the bottom [the retail portion] go."
Bobby Andriot, owner of 718 Main, said people have been showing interest in unoccupied locations in recent weeks, and a few of the vacancies have already been filled with new businesses busily preparing to open.
"I feel real good about Shelbyville," he said. "I think we're just on the edge of making things turn around.
"The economy makes some difference, but I also think with our position in the state, we have a lot to look forward to. We're going to be full of people, shops, and things to do."
That would include Bobby and Amye Garrett, who found what they believe to be the ideal spot for their To be continued...
"We like being in the downtown area," Amye Garrett said. "There's so much traffic, and so many people. We wanted to do something to benefit the community, and we felt like this would be the best thing."
The Garretts' consignment shop will offer designer-label clothing and furniture, and they're excited and optimistic.
"I think right now, with the economy the way it is, it's going to be perfect," Amye Garrett said. "There are a lot of moms that might be going back to work, and they might need clothing -- nice clothing to fit everybody's budget. That's what we're trying for."
Said Bobby Garrett: "There's nothing in town to offer that right now for the whole family. And for the furniture -
there's just a huge need for that."
They're already accepting fall and winter clothing, as well as furniture. And if an item is not sold, the consigner can choose to donate it to non-profit organizations.
Regan Wann is preparing Through the Looking Glass at the original Image Tree location on Washington Street, across from Wakefield-Scearce Galleries.
Creative Spirits Counseling will also be relocating to the 600 block downtown.
And Horace Brown will soon be opening an art studio displaying his wildlife and natural landscape photos. The studio will be located in the same building as Brown W H & Associates at 527 Main St.
With the economy being bad, Brown said the art would be for sale to generate additional income while spreading appreciation for nature and Shelby County.
"Local industry and businesses can get some pictures of Shelby County and any wildlife and use them as decorations for their business," he said.
Collins said that if more businesses opt to come to Shelbyville, downtown would be more appealing to both local and out-of-county shoppers.
"I think we're going to see our economy pick back up," she said. "And I think in the next few years we'll see many new stores in town."
Collins said she was happy at the last city council meeting to hear Hardesty talk about an incentive program to reward new businesses that come to Shelbyville, such as waiving property taxes to support new endeavors. A workshop will be held Oct. 30 to review the concept.
"I think that's a great idea," Collins said. "I think if the city council does institute such incentives, we'll see some more restaurants come in."